A PARABLE. Some Hong Kong stockbrokers who had organised a bus trip in the New Territories suddenly noticed their fuel was running out rather quickly. In fact, petrol was running out so quickly that an inexpert observer might have deduced that the tank had a hole and that someone ought to get out and check. However, with one voice the stockbrokers cried: ''The tank was too full when we started our trip. A correction is very healthy.'' When the gauge showed just four gallons left, one said: ''If you look at the long-term trend, the amount of fuel is actually going up, not down. We're in this bus for the long-term.'' Ten minutes later, the broker from Nomura said: ''The moment the gauge falls below the three-gallon mark, it'll go straight to FULL.'' After a further 10 minutes it was slightly above two gallons. One said: ''I've heard there's lots of petrol in London ready to be shipped out here the moment the gauge falls below the two-gallon mark.'' When the gauge reached one gallon, the man from Morgan Stanley said: ''The gauge is in a trading range between four gallons and two gallons.'' Another 10 minutes and the engine began to splutter. ''There's nothing to worry about,'' said one of the brokers. ''The tank still has more petrol in it than when the bus was made.'' Eventually the bus ran out of fuel many miles from the nearest petrol station. None of them considered even for a moment getting out the bus to go in search of petrol. Instead they continued trying to talk the tank full again by chanting the following phrase together, over and over again: ''The fundamentals of the bus are still sound. The fundamentals of the bus are still sound. The fundamentals . . .'' Rain of terror HONGKONG Telecom was demonstrating the future yesterday in the shape of its video-on-demand service. The cuddly monopoly's William Lo Wing-yan brushed aside suggestions that it would turn into a naughty-video-on-demand service patronised by youngsters. Then, for the historic first demonstration he pulled out Black Rain, the Michael Douglas movie described by Maltin's film handbook as a ''tough, violent, foul-mouthed action yarn''. Fifteen seconds into the movie, with about thirty bullets fired, William halted the movie and pulled up a little menu. He ordered a Black Rain T-shirt on his credit card, although a Black Rain assault rifle might have been more appropriate. Then he ordered a meal for home delivery and restarted the movie where he had stopped it. William reckons the technology will even allow you to bring up a pizza on the screen and pick your own ingredients, from pepperoni to strawberries. Shoot-outs and strawberry pizzas - when the future arrives, we may want to be somewhere else. Gift rap LOTS of people were invited yesterday to a curtain-raiser on the big anti-corruption conference being held in May. Everyone who attended was given an ''I'm against kickbacks'' sweatshirt, a silver-plated desk-set with the conference logo and a $250 voucher to spend at the ICAC gift shop. No, just joking. In fact, one helpful person from the organising committee even removed our plastic name-badges as we left so we couldn't make an illegal profit by selling them to people with the same name. Sonny's share SHAREHOLDERS in Emperor (China Concept) Investments watched their shares go from $5 to $2.85 yesterday - one of the sharpest falls of any share this year - as the mainland takeover bid collapsed. However, director Sonny Yeung Hoi-sing sold off his entire holding of 180,000 shares at $6.475 each on March 9, according to the stock exchange. Lucky chap. One side-effect of the collapse will be felt by the appointments diary of tycoon Tung Chee-Hwa. He was going to be an ''independent non-executive director'' of the group. One recent directory credited him with 211 - yes, that's two hundred and eleven - company directorships. He's also a member of Exco, a HK affairs adviser, a member of the People's Consultative Committee, and has quite a few other jobs, like being the Honorary Consul of Monaco. One of the more interesting issues concerning non-executive directors is whether someone with many other jobs put aside the time to scrutinise the complex affairs of a listed company. Incidentally, the stock exchange is doing a quick check to see which firms haven't done the right thing and signed up an independent director, which in theory they all should have done by January 1. At the last check, there were less than a dozen, according to the exchange's definition of ''independent''. And no, they won't be publishing the names. Coals law GORDON ''Wacky'' Wu Ying-sheung was in fine form at an otherwise tedious conference on building matters yesterday, turning his wit against lawyers. He remembered building a coal-fired power station. His lawyers suggested he add into the contract a clause covering what would happen if there was a coal shortage. Gordon's response was that they could always burn the massive pile of legal documents.